Central Florida. Obviously, we got physically beat up and worn down – there's no question about it. They were throwing us around pretty good. They've got some big ol' strong guys and there's a reason why they were successful over the years, particularly defensively. They are a really good defensive football team and they pound you on offense. It was an embarrassing performance, to say the least. I'm embarrassed at the way we played and once again, we just made too many mistakes. It is mind-boggling the things we do to lose football games.
We've all been in games – I've been coaching a long time – and we've won a lot and we've lost some but it's how you lose games. And that's the thing that's been bothersome to me this year is that we do the craziest things to lose football games. But you look at the game itself, they take the first drive and go down field and they break into the 50 and then its 3rd and 1. And we get beat and they go 50 yards for a touchdown. And then on the next drive, they go 14 plays, 93 yards and are 4th and 1 on our goal line and we do a great job. We have a great goal-line stand and stop them. And then we go back and forth and we're battling pretty good.
It's 7-0 with 2:10 left in the half and our punter drops the football. And, believe me, we haven't coached that this year. But he drops the football. So now it's down on the 3-yard line and a couple plays later they score a touchdown so now its 14-0 at half. We still have a chance to go out and compete and play hard and play. We come out in the second half and in the first series our quarterback fumbles. They run the ball twice and score a touchdown so now its 21-0. So, then we get the ball again and throw an interception on the next series ... they throw a pass and its 28-0. Then they kick off to us.
First of all, (Jeremy) Williams is banged up a bit and didn't want to use him for kickoff returns that game and Steve Barnett hurt his knee, so we put another guy in and he fumbled the ball. A few plays later they score another touchdown and its 35-0. And then of course we get the ball later. We punt the ball down – get a great punt and they go 14 plays, 97 yards and its 42-0. Then they score again to make it 49-0. So, we couldn't generate any offense. We couldn't run the ball, we couldn't protect, and we couldn't throw the ball. We just really struggled offensively and defensively. We just couldn't get off the field and we couldn't stop them. They were getting 3rd downs and they were more physical than us. So, that was that game.
This week we play SMU. They are 6-5. They lost to Marshall last week. Obviously, we would like to finish on a positive note. This is the last game for the seniors. As I told them, the memorable things, you always remember your last home game and they had a great feeling about that one ... beating El Paso ... and I told them you always remember your last college football game. One of the things I'm going to try and do is I'm going to try and start every Senior I can that is healthy and that fits into that scheme or those particular plays. So I think majority of the seniors will be able to start.
On Ryan Griffin maybe taking a step backward in the UCF game: He hit a wall in that game. He got thrown around pretty good. Our starting guard sprained his ankle so we moved a center to guard and inserted another guy. We just had some problems and they had 31 sacks going into the game. Their nose guard is a real high draft choice I believe. So they created some problems, some mismatches. They came after us pretty good and he got hit a few times and was sacked three times. But, I think the big thing is hopefully he learned from that experience. He regressed a little bit, but I think the opponent had a lot to do with it. Hopefully, he'll come back and do well against SMU.
On how you coach Ryan Griffin to learn from his experiences: Well, and that's what we told him. You have to learn from these experiences. We had a corner blitz and we practiced it all week and our left tackle is supposed to pick it up but he saw it too late and we get hit and he runs and he fumbles the ball. Don't make a bad play worse. And that's experience. We had a short yardage play and we tried to throw it up and hit a home run, but they intercepted the ball in the end zone. Those are all learning experiences and basically what we told him is hey, learn from it. Get better. Because of what happened doesn't mean we're going to take you out – you're the guy right now – you have to keep going. We try to give him confidence – hey, it's going to get better. I think it's important that he realizes that he is the guy right now and he just has to come out and try to perform this week.
On getting Andre Anderson 1000 yards rushing this last week: Yeah, that's one of the things we would like to try and do. And yea, if we can do that then there's no doubt we're going to try and do that. We feel we match up a little better this week than we did a week ago. They're playing well, but they have the same kind of situations that we are having here – they have some young guys. Hopefully we can move the ball and score some points.
On what his message would be to fans for next year: It's the same old battle cry. It's been a hard process, but we have to be patient. We are playing with a lot of young people and we think we're going to have a good recruiting year – we have 19 commitments and they are all holding strong and hopefully we can go out and get a few more guys as well. But we have to get in the weight room – we have to get bigger, we have to get stronger and we have to keep progressing. It doesn't happen over night. We just have to say hey, be patient and hang in there with us. That's all I can ask.
On the kicking game: There's a real possibility I'm going to have a kicking coordinator next year. I know I kind of said I'm the guy, but I think I'm going to put someone in charge of the whole kicking game as opposed to a coach for each one. And again, that's what I had my first year here, so I'm trying to say hey, okay, let's see if we can get this solved. And I will hire someone to coordinate special teams next year.
On how important continuity is: That is important ... that's very important. Offensively, we've had continuity and unfortunately, we've changed quarterbacks a lot and we haven't found the guy – hopefully now we have ... but I think defensively, is where we suffered the most and that's where most of the seniors are right now too. Again, we played a lot of young people there – I think we had 5 freshmen playing at one point last week ... as a matter of fact, one was a walk on. And then he got hurt too ... and I hate to complain about injuries, but we had guys going down like flies.
On why he played 18 freshmen this year: Well, first of all – they played. They didn't all play at one time. We still have some good seniors playing – Andre (Anderson) and Jeremy (Williams) and Nick Landry and (Reggie) Scott and Logan Kelley and Adam Kwentua had a great game and Travis Burks, so we have a bunch of seniors playing too. They have played and gotten some experience. Now, some of them (freshmen) have played ahead of some other guys because they just flat-out beat them out – they were better in our opinion than the guys that were ahead of them and some of them have been seniors – so in that case, yes, they have been better. They were bigger, stronger and faster and they played better or the senior hasn't played as well. If we're going to play a senior he has to perform and if he doesn't, we move a guy ahead of him. But just because we played 18 of them – it doesn't mean they started and played.
On Zack Morgan: I think after the first game or so we inserted him to be the starter because we were struggling with the guard position. Number one, he's stronger than any guard we have. Number two, he's more athletic than any guard we have and number three, he's a lot meaner and tougher than any guard we had. And so that's why we inserted him and then he made mistakes ... growing pains ... and he made some big mistakes. But, hopefully that will help for the future. Now, he did sprain an ankle a week ago and didn't really play this last week, but he's also going to come back and start this week – we think he's ready to go again.
On if he's maintained his starting position: Yea, he performed better. We put the senior back in and he didn't perform any better either.
On where the big plays from Andre Anderson and Jeremy Williams will come from next year when they aren't here: Well, we're hoping Payton Jason will return. Stephen Barnett has some ability. We've got some freshmen coming in that have some ability. Receiver-wise, Jeremy (Williams) is the only guy that we lose and we think that we have a lot of young receivers that have a lot of physical ability they just need some experience and they've gotten some this year ... and we red-shirted Wilson Van Hooser, who we think has a lot of talent as well. He had a stress fracture and couldn't play ... but we think there are some guys out there with ability. Jeremy had ability too when he was a freshmen and all of a sudden it started to show. These guys have that same kind of ability – they've got athleticism and they've got speed. It's a pretty talented group of freshmen.
On how much he thinks he can improve in the Win/Loss record: You never know. If we would stop making the mistakes we make I think we could have a winning season – let's put it that way.
On the large margin losses coming from mistakes the team has made: Well, it's the mistakes that we've made. If you go back and look at what has happened ... it's been the blocked punts, it's been the blown coverage, it's been the dropped snap ... it's throwing an interception and then not stopping them. We have to have a different mindset to go out there and stop them when it happens. It's a combination of a lot of things ... more us than anything else. More of the mistakes we've made to get it out of whack – and that's probably the most disappointing thing for me ... hey, you lose you lose. If somebody beats you, I can handle that. But, its how you lose. We play LSU and we get the punt block and things like that. Those are the things that are bothersome to me. I don't like the way we lose ... there's a way to lose and a way to lose.
On after being here for 3 years, has he found it to be a tougher challenge than he imagined: It's even tougher than I thought it would be. It's like two steps forward, on step back. You start playing some guys and then they get hurt and then you have to play some freshmen. You're playing young and inexperienced guys all the time. The strength program -we're trying to build strength with our kids and it's just a hard process. Yea, it's even more difficult than I envisioned it to be. But hopefully, we're going to ride the ship out.
Does this freshmen class have its own personality: Yes, they do. If you talk to them ... well, its kind of interesting ... its like every year, you always talk to the underclassmen and they say 'that senior class didn't do this or that' ... everybody ... the seniors had this year said the same things. But this freshmen class that we just brought in has a lot of good leaders, has a lot of talent and hopefully they'll come through.